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roaming about Londontown....

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
...with ample time for gawking, observing the hundreds and hundreds of other gawking tourists. On the Big Red bus again, and various and sundry trips up and down the steps of the 'tube' (underground trains, like Marta in Atlanta or Metra in DC) to get where we wanted to be. Pretty complicated syncing the maps with street map that had points of interest, Big Bus map with on-off stops, tube map for getting places in a hurry (but massively crowded during peak hours).

Fortunately, I was traveling with an excellent logistics coordinator, who I conveniently raised. Her sister and I would stand there people watching, trying to not get stepped on, or run over or pushed onto the track. While the expert repeatedly deciphered the many maps she was using to get us to monuments, castles, cathedrals, places we were desperately trying to see in a rapidly depleting amount of time.

We went back into the area of the Thames, planning to see the Tower and The Bridge. Did you know that the 'Tower' is not really just a tower, but a large rambling collection of ancient stone buildings built on the walls/foundation of a Roman garrison/fort? They call the structure in the center of the fortification the Tower, and there are rounded towers on all four corners of the square building. We did not go up those narrow winding staircases to upper levels, as I thought about feeling claustrophobic. In the area we did enter, there is an interesting display of armor, including metal plating designed to protect war horses that would carry fully covered knights into battle. Interesting bit of trivia: Guardsmen actually reside in the small apartments within the Tower complex. With families, who hang out laundry, and kids that ride bikes on the cobblestones after hours.

We also saw: safely tucked away in a huge vault, the Queens jewels, various crowns used over the centuries, scepters, ornately bejeweled gifts bestowed upon monarchs over time. Huge silver platters, serving bowls, and several empty cases, carefully designed, meticulously lined with velvet, constructed to hold the wealth when the valuables need to travel.  Plus an empty display where a royal scepter is normally displayed when Parliament is not in session, but must be ceremonially present when they are open for business.

Walked across the Thames on the Tower Bridge, which is the one with two tall stone beacons. The one depicted on postcards most assume is the London Bridge. If you are excessively brave or daring, you can go up into the heights of the towers and go from one to the other on a pedestrian walkway, over a section of the flooring that is clear, looking down on passersby and traffic crossing the river below. That was not me up there. More trivia: Did you know that The London Bridge was purchased by an (obviously quite wealthy) American businessman, dismantled stone by stone, shipped to the US and reassembled on Lake Havasu in Arizona? I did know that, and told my companions, who looked at me as if I had fallen from Mars, but when it was confirmed by a tour guide, I felt quite knowledgeable and clever. For more info., consult google.

The cousin had purchased tickets for us to go to the Globe Theater, where many of the Shakespeare plays were originally performed. It has been meticulously reconstructed (with appropriate  modern building codes observed as required). Hot as blue blazes, open to the weather, with standing for the peasants down on the bottom level adjacent to the stage. We thankfully had seats, mostly shaded.

Walked miles and miles...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

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